what i did: afterthought underarm gusset


I mentioned in my post about the Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan that I’d added a wee gusset to the underarm instead of simply grafting the live stitches together:

Check out my sweet armpit!

So, here’s what I did. You know how when you graft underarm stitches together, you usually want to pick up an extra stitch in each “corner” so as to not have holes? Well, to make the gusset, I did something slightly different with those extra stitches. I started by putting one set (I think it was “bottom”/body set, but it truly doesn’t matter) of live stitches on a needle, and joining yarn to knit.

Row 1: Knit across those stitches, picking up an extra stitch from the corner at the end of the row.
Row 2: Turn the work, slip the first stitch, and purl across, picking up an extra stitch from the corner at the end of the row.
Rows 3 and 4: Turn again, slip the first stitch, and repeat Rows 1 and 2 a second time. Leave the resulting 12 stitches “live”.

I went from having 8 stitches held at the underarm to having 12 of them, and a slight “wedge”-shaped bit of fabric. Then I did Rows 1-4 again on the other set of live underarm stitches, so that I had 2 matching sets of 12 live stitches, and I kitchenered THOSE stitches together. The result was a little “bubble” of stitches that looks slightly odd when the sweater lies flat, but tucks away beautifully when the sweater is worn, giving me the ability to lift my arm up high without a lot of pulling!

Showing off my armpit

I thank my former obsession with ganseys for giving me the idea of a gusset, though on a gansey the gusset is definitely worked as part of the pattern, not as an afterthought. For Fiddlehead Yoke, if I had knit the yoke just a bit looser, so that the underarm join was a bit below my actual armpit, I wouldn’t have needed the gusset at all…but I wanted a very close-fitting sleeve opening and a close-fitting yoke, and realized after the fact that if I simply joined the live stitches at the underarm, my sleeve opening would simply be TOO snug. This let me “fix” it without undoing the whole yoke, and I got a sweater fit that I’m super duper happy with. I don’t know if this would be a useful trick for anyone but me…I have kind of freakishly broad shoulders but thin arms, and I’m also flat-chested but with a really big ribcage (compared to the rest of my petite frame), so getting proportions to work for me in a way that results in a well-fitted sweater is always an adventure.


it’s a cardigan!!

It's a cardigan!!

Hooray! I steeked my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan this morning! Before steeking, I picked up and knit the button bands, because I felt more comfortable doing that with the sweater intact than with it cut open. You can kind of see the garter stitch button bands folded out to the sides as I’m preparing to cut in this photo:

Preparing to steek!

I didn’t crochet the steek or even put in a line of stitches with the sewing machine ahead of time, because Lopi is sticky yarn, and since I’d picked up and knit the button bands already, I felt like it would be secure enough. Here’s the first snip!


Look how neatly the stitches came apart…Lopi is great!

The beginning of the steek

I actually found steeking to be incredibly satisfying. Snip snip snip!


The final snip was the most satisfying of all!!

The final snip!!

The cut steek lies nice and flat – I may end up covering with with a ribbon, but I don’t see a true need to do that, so I’ll only do it if I find ribbon that I think would be super pretty on the inside.

Hooray for steeks!

Here, you can see the little “gusset” I added at the armpits, instead of simply grafting them together – it gave me a little bit more range of motion around the arm. (If the yoke were slightly looser/deeper, I probably wouldn’t have needed them, but they work great and let me have a very close, modern fit around the yoke):

Showing off my armpit

I am seriously so happy with this sweater! It still needs to have buttons sewn on, and I’ll get to that at some point (but hey, now that it’s warm outside, it’s hardly urgent that my new cardigan have buttons!).

So happy with my cardigan

A few folks have asked if I’ll write this up as a pattern and to that my answer is a firm “I don’t know!” For one thing, it’s pretty heavily inspired by someone else’s pattern (Adrian Bazilia’s “Fiddlehead Mittens“) though obviously I changed the charts to make them wedge-shaped so they aren’t actually the same. But beyond that, the chart is 31 stitches wide at the base, and that’s…kinda wide, as far as a repeating yoke pattern goes. I’m sure I could figure out a way to make the math work for multiple sizes (I figured out how to make Vahtralehed work, and that’s an even wider motif!), but I’m not sure I have the mental energy for it right now. I’ve kind of forgotten how to be a designer…but I may want to dip my toes back in the water with something simpler first (like the hat/mitten set that seriously probably just needs to be tech edited). We’ll see!

almost done!

Fiddlehead Yoke - almost there!!

Look what I almost finished while traveling over Memorial Day weekend!! With 7 hours of driving each way, and lots of time to knit while watching my daughter play with her cousin, I was able to finish the second sleeve, join everything up, and knit the entire yoke while we were away. Before I dive into that, notice how I have my keys clipped to my pants in the above picture?

Those puppies would have saved me a lot of drama yesterday morning! I had stepped outside with sweater and camera to take photos just after my husband had left to take our daughter to school and then drive into work. My plan had been to spend a relaxing morning at home and then walk into campus for the afternoon. But alas, guess what happened when I went to let myself back into the house? The knob was locked. And I hadn’t brought my keys OR my phone outside with me! I tried our neighbor-who-watches-the-cats’ house (she has a spare key), but she wasn’t home. At that point, I had about half an hour before my husband was supposed to call the tire place from his office about getting a warranty replacement for our tires, and since I didn’t know whether he’d be taking our only car in for that right away or whether he’d have to wait, I kinda needed to get to him before he set up that appointment to have any chance of being let back into my house before the end of the day. It’s about 2.5 miles from our house to campus, so that meant doing ~12min/mile pace…which is not a walking pace. I’ve not been a runner since autoimmune disease kinda took out my lower back/left sciatic nerve about a decade ago, but I managed it! (My left leg is a bit draggy now, alas.) I’m sure I looked kinda bonkers running with a camera and a sweater whose ends were trailing behind me, but what can you do? Lesson learned: never, ever leave the house without my keys, no matter how “sure” I am that I’m not locking the house behind me!

These would've saved me a lot of trouble yesterday! (Yesterday morning, I stepped outside with sweater and camera to take pictures, and locked myself out of the house...had to run to campus carrying both to get to my husband before he called the tire shop
Keys: don’t leave home without them!

ANYWAY…back to my awesome sweater!! I really couldn’t be happier with how it is turning out.

So happy with how this is turning out!

Look how gorgeous the back is!!

Fiddlehead Yoke - back view

I ended up deciding to do an i-cord neckline, partly because I was basically out of space (ribbing would’ve turned it into a mock-turtleneck!), but mostly because I’ve really loved the look of the i-cord necklines that Jennifer Steingass puts on her yoked sweaters.

Attempting to show off the i-cord collar.

My sweater ended up fitting me very closely, which is pretty much exactly what I wanted, and the only concern I have about it relates to range of motion for my arms. I haven’t kitchenered the armpits together yet:

Thinking about armpits...

I’m considering knitting a little bit of a gusset in that space, so that there isn’t pulling when I lift my arms. I think it’ll work great!

I’m a bit nervous about steeking…I’ve only steeked one sweater before, about a decade ago, but I know that Lopi is sticky wool and people steek lopapeysas ALL the time, so I’ve just gotta be brave! Then my plan is to knit garter stitch button bands with a contrast-color (the same as the neckline i-cord) bind-off. I think it’s going to be awesome!

From above

See you on the other side of the steek!

it has begun!


I said that my Fiddlehead Yoke design was next up, and I meant it. On Friday, I cast on, and as of today, I have nearly an entire sweater body!

I knit almost an entire sweater body this weekend. Lettlopi knits up so fast!

It took awhile to get going, because I am apparently spectacularly bad at counting when I’m doing a tubular cast-on. The first time, I cast on 10 too few stitches and knit almost the entire hem before realizing it. Then I cast on 20 too many (it’s the 10s place that I get messed up on, it seems), but thankfully noticed that while knitting the very first row. Third time was the charm!

Tubular cast-on, garter rib hem. Took 3 tries to actually cast on the correct number!

I ended up, after a great deal of internal debate, deciding to use 1×1 garter rib for the hems and cuffs. I considered garter stitch, and also considered doing a contrasting cast-on, but I couldn’t decide which of the yoke colors I’d use for it, and I do really like the look of garter rib. I’m still not 100% sure it was the right call, though. But I suppose if I end up deciding that it doesn’t really go with the sweater once I’ve done the yoke, I can always rip out the hems/cuffs and do something different. I also considered doing the yoke first, top-down, but decided to use the more traditional bottom-up approach for this one. I’m kinda kicking myself over that, because I’m desperate to see what the yoke actually looks like knit up, but patience, patience, self, you’ll get there.

I’ve made some revisions to my yoke charts, mostly because I realized that given the row gauge I’m getting, my yoke was going to be far too tall. I looked at a few of the Lettlopi-based yoked sweater patterns that I own, and got a better sense for what a realistic number of rows in a yoke might be, and I’m pretty tickled with my charts now.

Considering how quickly the body came together, and the fact that we’ve got a road trip coming up at the end of the week (we’re going to Ohio to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day weekend), I very well might have a new sweater in the next week or two. Wow! Worsted weight knits up so fast compared to the sport weight I was using for my Elle Melle (which, by the way, is entirely finished except for end-weaving, blocking, and zipper-installation!).

Snuggling my Lopi sweater-in-progress.

I haven’t steeked a sweater in nearly a decade, so I’m a bit nervous about that part, but I know people put steeks in lopapeysas all the time, so I’ll just have to be brave!

oh, hey, i can knit again!


This Spring semester has been pretty brutal on a whole bunch of levels, but now I’M DONE! I submitted and sealed my grades today, which means now I’m down to just the baseline level of research/meetings, which means I CAN KNIT AGAIN! And the first thing on my to-do list was knitting sleeve #2 of my grown-up Elle Melle. I finished it last night, and then moved onto the neckline this morning, and look, it’s almost finished!

Just button bands left to do!

Just button bands left to knit (and then a whole lot of end-weaving), but that’ll take some math, and I might need my brain to recover from non-stop final portfolio grading a bit before I’m up for that.

Almost done!

Still pretty darn tickled with how this is turning out. I did some short-rows at the neckline to contour it a bit, like I did with M’s Elle Melle, and I’m pretty happy with how it looks:

Almost done!

Look at the pretty raglan line!

Pretty raglan shoulder

I actually had been doing a little bit of knitting during the last couple of weeks of the semester, but it needed to be small and portable and relatively mindless…

A bigger hat for Miro

…like this 2×2 rib hat. It’s a replacement for the hat I knit for a friend’s baby. That hat got lost, and since baby had grown in the meantime, I made his hat a bit bigger. I know it looks impossibly narrow in the first photo, but it really does stretch!

Very stretchy!

It even stretches to fit MY head!

Proof that it stretches to fit my head!

But here’s what it’ll really look like:

What it'll actually look like.

I have SO many knitting plans for this summer, friends…far too many to actually make happen, given that I’ve got research work and travel and upcoming jury duty and cleaning up/clearing out our oh-so-messy house both inside and out (a 1000sqft house plus 3 people, one of whom creates an entire living-room full of art/engineering projects on a weekly basis, and the other two of whom work full time and are too tired to do much cleaning, can get *awfully* bad if neglected for most of the span of that first one’s life). But the next thing on my list, once I finish Elle Melle, is my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan. I’ve got the yarn, I’ve got the design mapped out…it is GOING to happen this summer!

Vernal Equinox, 2017

Tomorrow, we celebrate 12 years of marriage!
And now we are 12!

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary, and also the Vernal Equinox. 48 seasons together as a married couple! Here’s to many, many more with my beloved.

We kinda forgot to make plans to celebrate our anniversary (whoops!), but we *did* celebrate the Equinox as a family, so at least there’s that!

Service was "in the round" today. Very lovely!

Madrigal and I started the day with an Equinox Celebration at our UU church, which was a really lovely intergenerational service with music and dancing and seed-planting. Then, the whole family took off for Naples, NY, to go the Cumming Nature Center for the last day of their Maple Sugaring events.

Maple Sugaring time! (It's actually way too cold - the sap is frozen in all of the buckets!)

It’s actually too cold right now – the sap is all frozen in the buckets, but it was still a lot of fun to walk the trails and learn a bit about how maple syrup is made.

Watching the big pot boiling down the sap.

M even practiced carrying the sap buckets with a wooden yoke:

Ready to carry some sap!

The sugar shack was a nice, warm stop along the trail!

Running to the sugar shack!

Madrigal was SO happy on the trails, and kept saying, “mama, it’s so beautiful, it’s just like my dreams coming true!”

She kept saying, "mama, it's so beautiful, this is my dream come true!" Gotta take this girl on more hikes in the woods, because apparently that's what her good dreams are all about!!

We’ve got to take this girl on more hikes in the woods, because apparently that really is what her favorite dreams are all about! We even got her to take a photo of us, and she did a great job!

Maddy took a picture of us!

This kid loves snow:

A girl and her giant snowball.

And also maple candy!

Sampling the maple goodness.

We followed up the hike with a few gifts for M (we celebrate each turn of the seasons with “something to do, something to wear, and something to read”):

Maddy's Equinox "do, wear, read" gifts: Snapcircuits, two awesome books, and a new sun hat (not pictured)

She got Snapcircuits, two awesome books, and a new (red!) sun hat, and was very excited about all of them. Then, we ended the day with our now-traditional candles at dinner (we light them for every Equinox and every Solstice):

Candles for our (one day early) Equinox celebration.

A lovely way to celebrate the coming Spring! I wish all of you a very happy Equinox, and a delightful Spring.

This is not Portland.

Showing off a finished sleeve (plus a ton of snow)
(but I do have Elle-Melle sleeve-progress to show off after I ramble about snow!)

I was supposed to be in Portland today, presenting at the CCCC Convention, but Winter Storm Stella had other ideas. But of course, as these things go, I only discovered that getting there in time to present would be impossible AFTER digging out the driveway and going all the way to the airport. Thankfully, one member of our presentation team (ironically, the one named Stella!) made it there, so I’m all set to present via Skype later today.

so much snow.
(totally dressed for Skype – pretty, professional knitwear on top, comfy cords on the bottom!)

Anyway, back to the snow. Like so many folks in the north eastern US, we got quite a dumping from Winter Storm Stella. It started Tuesday afternoon and then did not let up until Wednesday afternoon. My husband and I took turns shoveling so as to make things easier, but let me tell you a fun fact about shoveling when you are getting a couple of inches of snow per hour: the air is so thick with snow that when you try to take a deep breath (because, oh, let’s say you’re out of breath from carrying 25lb shovelfuls of snow from the front of your house to your backyard because you’ve run out of room in front) you end up breathing in snow, which makes you choke and then you set off a wheezing fit. It’s FUN! But on the plus side, you do get to feel like a pretty awesome badass for moving all that snow, especially if, like me, you put on some headphones and rock out to Florence and the Machine while you shovel. This morning, I half gave up on shoveling, and just used the shovel to break up the massive snow-boulders at the end of our driveway so that I could pick them up and chuck them atop the massive 4.75 foot snow wall that now surrounds our house.

(Massive snow wall, front view)

We have a 4.75 foot wall of snow around our house now. Good thing there's no more snow in the forecast because we are seriously out of room!
(Massive snow wall, back view)

Of course, snow is TONS of (non-sarcastic) fun when you’re a 5 year old who does not have to clear the driveway and attempt to work at home during a snowstorm that follows a devastating windstorm (we got 80mph winds last week that took out power lots of places, including my daughter’s school, so we’ve now had 2 wind days followed by 2 snow days and let’s just say that’s a lot of no-school days for a household with two working parents to manage!)

My beautiful snowbaby :)
(My beautiful snowbaby)

M was so happy to go on “adventures” in her snow gear with me on Tuesday, and I will say, once I gave up on the idea of getting any more work done, it was pretty fun for me, too!

Snow Day Snuggles.
(Snow Day Snuggles)

Anyway, enough about snow – let’s talk about my grown-up Elle Melle! I’ve finished sleeve number one, and picked up the stitches for sleeve number two, rendering it at least somewhat wearable, so I decided to use the beautiful snow backdrop to take some progress shots.

Making progress on Elle Melle

I’m really happy with how the fit is coming out – I know that after blocking, it will end up slightly longer than it currently is, so it’s looking like it’ll be pretty much perfect! Here it is from the back (and slightly out of focus, but it’s COLD and I didn’t feel like getting fussy with the camera):

From the back

And here’s a closeup of the raglan edge – ain’t it purty?

Close-up of raglan join

For future reference, here is what I did: I picked up EVERY stitch (from the outside leg of the reverse stockinette stitch that runs up the edge when I do my sl1, p1 edging that I talked about in my last post), and then I knit a round in which I ssk’d each pair of stitches (to cut the number in half, since the pattern instructs to pick up every other stitch) down one side, and k2tog’d each pair up the other side, and THEN I followed the pattern directions for the raglan short-rows. One other difference is that I slip the first stitch both when I purl back across AND when I knit back across (the pattern doesn’t have you slip the first stitch on the knit rows). These two things helped me avoid the gappiness that I find occurs if you follow the pattern directions exactly.

Over the shoulder of the finished sleeve.

I’m just so happy with how it’s turning out, and I can’t wait to finish it – but it turns out to be terribly difficult to knit after you’ve utterly blown out your forearms carrying shovelfuls of snow for two days. (It’s also strangely hard to type, or do anything that requires my fingers to listen to my brain and not be clumsy.)

I hope you all survived Winter Storm Stella, friends! I’m sad that I’m not in Portland, but at least it’s really beautiful outside with the sunshine on the bright white coating of snow.